Fiction

The Pigeon-Blood Rubies of Perak

A Novelette Complete in this Issue

Harold McGrath September 1 1917
Fiction

The Pigeon-Blood Rubies of Perak

A Novelette Complete in this Issue

Harold McGrath September 1 1917

The Pigeon-Blood Rubies of Perak

A Novelette Complete in this Issue

Harold McGrath

Author of “The Man on the Box” “Hearts and Masks,” etc.

THE instinct to hunt for treasure begins just outside the cradle and ends just inside the grave; it is stronger than love or hate or honor; it makes a hero of a coward and a poltroon of a brave man —sometimes. But the moral of this tale deals not with any of these things except indirectly; it concerns only this indisputable fact, that tomorrow is never the day you think it is going to be.

To set the ball rolling, then, without* more ado or preamble : The Ponte

Vecchio in Florence, is, as every one knows, devoted to Jewelers’ shops.

They hang on both sides of the bridge, in blue and white and pink stucco, mere bandboxes. W he n Columbus started out to find a new continent so that it might be named after his bitter enemy, Amerigo Vespucci, they were bargaining and haggling i n these same shops wherein they bargain and haggle this very day.

You can buy a silver bangle for a franc or a pearl necklace for a hundred thousand.

Last spring one shop particularly interested me — Settepassi’s. I was returning to the Lung’

Arno from a morning over at the Pitti (where there is a Carlo Dole! I am much in love with), when I was attracted by the loveliest emerald I have ever seen. It was attached to a collar of white 'and rose enamel, diamond-shaped, with small brilliants interlocking. The pendant was the emerald, about half an inch deep, round like a five-franc piece or an American silver dollar, and was polished, not cut. Below the emerald was a pink pearl the size of a large hazel nut, one side of which was flat, as if some mischievous mermaid had thumbed it during some yawning t>eriod of the oyster. Linked to this was another polished emerald, pear-shaped, about as large as the end of your thumb. Not in the shops at Delhi had I seen a more exquisite piece of workmanship.

I know nothing about the pearl or the smaller emerald; their adventures so far as I am concerned, are closed books. You know how gems come together through the ordinary channels of commerce, from Brazil, from Africa, from India, to grace some alabaster throat; and you also know how little thought the owner of that throat gives to the gems themselves so long as they represent a victory over certain rivals. Settepassi had made up a rare some w wear it reasons forth, the my tale is

FOR five mornings made a pilgrimage to Settepassi s windows; an I for five mornings I stood with my n 5se all bat flattened i gainst the pane, won« ering and envying a id admiring. On the fifth morning I happened to catch, r« fleeted in the wind' - glass, two serio is faces, each slight] r shadow; ed by the c >cked hat of the Ca rabiaten. I understoo I instantly. From a peaceful author (of bloodthirsty taks) ambling about Italy in search of had, all in become a character, before so ri{ play of stones for se«rutive each time from ten minutes, quit ious to the si ings (and knows th« noisy ei have excitedl ion in the m( purblind vil stable, let i of the best driminal police in the! world. Maybe I did look desperate. Perhaps in my soul I was long-

ing for a club steak and this longing gave me a tigerish expression of countenance. Besides, I hadn’t shaved that m«|rmng; anti I wore a negligee shirt with I a soft rolled collar (for when most of your time is spent in staring at duomo-tops and frescoes it is monumental folly to wear a starched knife blade at the back o|f your neck), and I daresay my trousers pressing badly.

And would you believe it? I had to take those two chaps to the American Consulate that morning, in the Via ' 'ornabuoni, and have myself properl;r and thorouehlv identified. We ¿11 had \ r good laugh over it Bob l éel ánpramw ™4fear those two Carabinieri ; Ihr feo# they

not courteously bat firmly escorted me to the Consolate that morning, I should never have met the young man who told me the history—rather a fragment—of the Settepassi emerald.

Even now in my dreams, sometimes, I can see that pleasant young man as he polled off his chamois gloves and exhibited his two hands, frightfully mottled with such scars as only fire can make.

THE tale proper began in the early spring of 1902, began as all tragic episodes begin, with a triviality; in this instance, the bare knuckles of a butler on the white-enameled panel of a bedroom door. This butler was a privileged character. He had grown old in the service of the Cathew family; and he often took liberties which a younger man might have hesitated to take. But even he never entered without knocking. So he knocked at the door of his young master’s bedroom, knocked gently, then firmly, and finally quite loudly. There was no response. As the issue at stake was vital, as his orders had been peremptory, he opened the door and entered. The lights were still on. The young man in bed had forgotten to turn them off. The butler shook his head sadly, pressed the button to extinguish the lights, and raised the window shades. The brilliant morning sunshine made the occupant of the bed turn over, but that was all.

“Mr. Arthur?”

No sound came from the bed; and the servant, pained at the anomaly of his position, reached down and shook the sleeper. He sniffed Turkish cigarettes and wine fumes. The sleeper presently opened a pair of swollen eyes and blinked. It took him a minute or two to realize where he was. Then he sat up wrathfuDy.

“Worden, what the dickens do you mean by coming in and waking me up in this fashion?”

“I beg pardon, sir, but your father’s orders were peremptory. I had no choice.”

"What time is it?”

“Nine-thirty, sir.”

“Nine-thirty!” in a.tone which conveyed the impression that he had never before heard such a period of time in the morning. “What’s the row?”

“I don't know, sir. My orders were to wake you up and say that it was vital to you to breakfast, dress and be at the office at precisely ten-thirty.”

“The governor wants to see me at the

officer

“Yes, sir. And I should be very careful, sir, to be on the minute. He was not in the best of tempers when he went down town.”

“All right Bring me a grapefruit and a cup of coffee. Well, what do you think •f that?” addressing space, since Worden was already on his way to execute the order for breakfast '

MR. ARTHUR, only son, slid his legs to the floor, and rubbed his eyes. Then he smacked his lips soundly and wrinkled Us nose in disgust He rose, shuffled into the bathroom, and stood under the shower. After a semi-vigorous tojreliu^he concluded that he was awake, though he would not have taken his oath on it He came back into the bedroom and began to pick up his evening clothes, the three chairs and the lounge. Each time

he stooped the room swung round as upon

invisible ban bearings. He was halfway inside of /these clothes before he discovered hik mistake. This did not serve to make him any more amiable. At the end of a quarter of an hour he had gotten as far avhis four-in-hand. He completed the ta&k and stood before the long mirror, contemplating himself, and not with any especial favor.

, “You must have had a pippin last night You'll look nice in papa’s office at ten-thirty. What the devil can he want? Did I get arrested? Let’s see. I first made a call, perfectly sober. I proposed, and she told me that she wouldn’t marry me if I was the last man on earth. No side-stepping there. Well, I don’t blame her. This reforming fools is a tough job, and I suppose I’m as big a fool as ever walked up and down Broadway. Next, I went over to the club and lost four hundred at poker and drank three quarts of champagne. No, I couldn’t have been arrested. You’re a handsome lad, I must say!” once more addressing his reflection. “A couple of fried eggs for eyes and a mouth full of persimmons and dog-biscuit Never again! I’ll bet you'll be saying that every ten minutes during the day—till the lights come up again. That you, Worden? Come in. That grapefruit will taste good. I don’t know #bout the coffee,” with a grimace.

The butler hovered about the tÁbie after the fashion of a fussy ben with a lone chick; for he had dandled this boy on his knees and fed him sweets, and he loved him for his unfailing amiability. It was too bad, too bad.

“I say, Worden, do you think the governor is going to put me on the carpet?”

“It looks that way, sir. And, begging your pardon, I shouldn’t act hasty with him, sir.”

“Umhm. Say anything about me?” “Nothing except that he wanted you at the office, sir.”

“How is mother?”

“Not so well as yesterday,” gravely. Arthur pushed aside his empty cup and scowled at his cigarette-stained fingers. How many times had he promised that patient, loving mother of his to brace up and be a man? Beyond counting. “Worden, I guess I’m a rotter.”

“You’re only young, sir.”

“Do you call twenty-four young?” “Very young, sir,” which was as near a rebuke as Worden had ever permitted himself to approach.

“In other words, fresh. Maybe you’re right Well, have the runabout at the door by ten.”

“You will see Mrs. Cathew before you

Ro?”

“Yes. I’ll run into her room now.”

He kissed his mother, and she clung to him rather wildly he thought “My poor boy!” she murmured.

“I’m afraid I’m no good, -mother. I can’t keep my word. Every time I promise I honestly mean it”

“Be careful with your father. He is terribly angry.”

“More than usual?”

“Far more than usual.”

“It’s the first of the month, and I suppose some of my bills have turned up. Don’t worry; I shan’t lose my temper even if he does. He’s the best father in the world, and he has never gone at me unjm■#*. r*w get to feratis to make the

office on time By-by! I’ll be home for dinner to-night”

ALONE, she twisted her thin white hands together and the tears rolled unchecked down her cheeks. Never a harsh word to any one, always kindly and lovable; he was only weak.

Henry Cathew was an honest millionaire; so you would not recognize him if I described him to you. The newspapers seldom devoted any space to his affairs. When he took hold of a railroad or a steamship line it was to make money for it not out of it He was a builder, not a wrecker. pis gray hair was closely clipped, his smooth face w»s slightly florid, and his fifty-two years warfare (for the life of a worker is all warfare) had merely drawn a crow’s foot at the comers of his normally kindly blue eyes. He ate and drank and smoked and worked in moderation. Above his desk on the wall hung a framed card, ;n bold type:

MODERATION,

ALWAYS

MODERATION.

At this particular moment (ten-thirty to the second) you would have found him at his desk, bitipg the end of his pen. You would have beard the cedar crack, too, as his strong .white teeth settled down upon the mood. ‘.Abruptly he rosé and turned the face of the sign to the wall, and sat down again. His blue eyes were as hard and cold as his steel rails.

ARTHUR, seated in the leather-covered chair at the left of the desk, viewed these ominous signs imperturbably. The turning of the card to the wall appealed to his ready sense of humor; but he wisely repressed the smile which struggled at his lipa He was in for a drubbing; how serious remained to be learned.

He was big of bone like his father, but the flesh was pasty and flabby. He was dressed, however, with scrupulous care, from his patent-leather gaitered shoes to his pearl-grey fedora. The fact for all its evidences of dissipation was pleasing. A physiognomist at second glance would nave found his fi»-st observation at fault for a close scrutiny would have revealed no real weakness in the outline of the youthful face, a shadowy replica of the father’s. He might have added to his summing up—“Give him a real interest in life and see what happens.”

“Well, dad, you sent for me?”

“I did; and I wish to congratulate you upon your promptness,” ironically.

“Worden came in and woke me up. He didn’t seem to like the job.”

“He had my orddM. You are twentyfour years old. Wheh>J was at your age I was plugging for bread and butter at twenty a week.”

“And now you’re worth millions. Pretty good work for twenty-eight years,” replied the son lightly.

“This is not an occasion for levity,” came the quiet rebuke.

“I had a suspicion. Well, what’s the trouble? Let’s have it over with.”

Cathew senior picked up a sheet of paper from his desk. “There is only one thing to your credit here.”

“And what’s that?” astonished.

“You are not a liar. And I have given yap more rope on that account than you’d believe if I told you. I have your record here for the past five years, ever since they dropped you from Yale. You haven’t done anything but spend money.” “I had nothing else to do. You never offered me a decent job in the office.” “What you call a decent job was something like general manager at ten thousand a year. But I have offered to put you on the road to it. However, that issue is closed. We’ll not discuss it. When a son refuses to begin at the bottom, knowing that it means only a little time before he hits the top, under a kindly, generous father, why, there is nothing more to be said. I’ve done wrong, and I admit it. I’ve let you have your run, paid your bills, always hoping you’d see the right road and brace up.

You have had and spent in five years a hundred and twelve thousand dollars.

Here it is down in black and white. And God knows how much you have had from your mother. Your loose living has done as much as anything to keep her an invalid; and but for her entreaties you would have gone out into the streets long ago.”

Arthur stared at his shoes.

Where was this going to end? It began to look serious.

“To you I’m not a father;

I’m only a cash drawer into which you dig your idle hands whenever you are in need of money. I’m half to blame, I repeat; I should have shut you off a long time ago. And who gets this money?

Wine agents and restaurants and chorus girls and card sharpers; they get it. Well, there isn’t another turn to the rope, my ■on. This is the wind-up. I’ve jawed and cussed and fumed. You will note that to-day I’m not whooping and losing my temper.”

THE son uncrossed his legs and sat a trifle more erect in his chair. His head throbbed and his stomach was not on its best behavior. But he was keen enough to appreciate that there was something truly ominous in the level tones of his father. Cathew junior was evidently in a bad way.

“For five years I have been trying to make you look ahead, into the future. It’s a damnably wrong idea that youth must sow its wild oats in order to make headway against the world later. I’ve been kind; I’ve paid your bills, I’ve done everything possible a father could do who had a real interest in his flesh and blood. I have wasted my time. Well, Arthur, you are this morning at the end of your rope. I’m going to clean up all your bills, but it’s the last time I ever shall. Beginning from this day you will be allowed exactly, two hundred a month, and you will pay your own debts. You have averaged about twenty-five thousand a year; let’s see what you can do on twenty-four hundred. There’s an alternative.”

“And what’s that?”

“Fifty thousand to clear out for good,” with a curious boring glance.

“I’ll take a chance at the two hundred. Not with any eye to the future; just to

see if I’ve got stuff enough in me to make good on it. I deny that I ever imposed upon mother. If I borrowed money from her, she always knew to the last penny what I needed it for. When does this two hundred begin?”

“Right now.” Cathew senior filled out a blank and signed it “Thanks. Two pretty good jolts. Well, no doubt I deserve them.”

“What was the other jolt?” asked the father, secretly proud of the equanimity of the boy.

“I went over to Nell’s last night She said she wouldn’t not if I was the last man on earth. Right and left hooks to the face, and then a swing flush on the jaw. I was counted out”

“Do you really care for that girl?”

“A whole lot, dad.”

“But not quit« enough to.stand up and make a man of'yourself ?”

“I don’t know,” staring at the cheque, but not seeing it “Have I got to clear out of the house?”

“Oh, no. It simply mei ns that you will have two hundred instead Df two thousand and that you’ll have to dri ve your own car' and pay for the gasoline On the word of your father, I’ll never boost that two hundred till you can lay before me ten thousand in hard-earned dollars, hardearned dollars, every one it which meant struggle, privation, self-denial, obstacles overcome.”

“That looks a long wa 7 off. Why, I couldn’t sell a pair of strings on the busiest corner of 42nd str »et and Broad-

“I don't doubt it I shaH never aj win ask you to bí ace up. If you aie on the way to hell, you will get there on o thousand, ’re on your now. Fm angry; I am damned sad bitter. I am ing along in 1rs and wantla son of my to lean on. is, I shaH toJean on one else*s shaH leave under plate thé of e a e h t h. That’ll . you coming to the ofIf you wish t o I travel, Fll express orBut never for any adyou will not ¿et it

right dad. Fm ¿shamed. You are treating me better than I I could all sorts

Cathew senior~ turned toh4 d~ and began sorting his letters. Xill~r curs, be was thinking; kill or cure. ut in his soul he longed to take the bOy 4~ his ars and give him a million. There aa a man somewhere down under that unhealthy skin; never a whimper, ``1 a uhias. Kill or cure, kill or cure. He ait.d f~ the door to close, and havingi waited a minutehe looked up.

“Will you shake hands, dad1 “Yes, Arthur. What I am do|ng is only for your good.”

“I know it”

The door closed after this, add Cathew senior pressed the button for iis stenographer. It was going to be a g eat risk; but the machinery had been set n motion and he was not a man to revoke 1 is orders. The stenographer had a eery unpleasant session

rom He spread out the check on the n ahogany table, smiling grimly. Two hundred a month from now on. and Nell wouldn't marry him if he was the last man on earth. What a colossal fool he was! Why couldn’t he brace up? What was the object of these wild nights and woollytongued mornings? He crackled the cheque in his fingers. He must make that serve for thirty days or go broke. It would be a great lesson on economy. He got up, paid for his drink, and went out

A man slouched after him. In fact, he had not been out of sight of this man since leaving his father’s offices.

He decided to lunch at home. He was. in need of food, however repellent the thought was. He cashed the cheque, put the bills in his wallet and crossed the Park to Riverside. He was curious to learn if he could go through the day without breaking into that two hundred. If he could manage to do that there was hope.

That night he went to his club, refused a dozen offers to drink, declined all card games, and spent most of his time in the writing room. The girl who received that letter never parted with it.

At eleven he started for home in quite an unusually serious frame of mind. As he turned a corner, two men sprang out of the shadows and grappled him.’ For a young man in his condition he put up a very respectable fight; but his assailants were too strong for him. A cloak of some sort was wound about his head and he was bundled roughly into a taxicab. Later he felt a sting in his arm. Then he fell asleep.

T ONG before he came out of his stupor, for he had been drugged, Cathew sensed the smell of oil. Each effort to evade it (by drawing up the coverlet of his bed-to his chin) served only to accentuate it. In his half-dream he wondered how any one could have spilled oil on that filet-counterpane which was the pride of Mrs. Harwood, the housekeeper. Same old headache, too; and after all his good resolutions! Underneath the smell of oil, he began gradually to sense another peculiar thing, a long rise and a long fall. Of course he knew what that was. Many a time he had to wait till the bed stopped turning circles before he could get into it Evidently he had taken his life in his hands last night and jumped aboard irhile the bed was still turning.

■Out of that you swab!”

“Out of that you souse; d’ye hear?”

* “Warden, you can cut out that line of talk, Cathew murmured.

“íe that so!”

Cathew’s eyelids went up half way, and with eyes which throbbed and seemed full of dancing spangles of fire he beheld an enormous paw. It seemingly came out of nowhere, grasped his shoulder cruelly and shook him.

“In half an hour ye'll be at the portbunkers with ye’er shovel. That’s all; be there. An' no back talk, mind.”

Cathew sat up and stared bewilderedly At the gorilla-like face lowering over him. For his father to rag him was one thing; but for an utter stranger to lay hands on nim!

“Where the devil-did you come from?” he asked unamiably, still without recognizing the fact that he was not in his own bedroom at home.

The paw reached in again, caught him by the arm, heaved him out bodily and flung him sprawling to the floor. Cathew junior’s attitude toward life was like that of a young bullpup. friendly and eventempered so long as none showed malice or cruelty. He sprang to hisfeet and lunged at his assailant’s jaw. not without a certain skill. His fist struck a castiron elbow, and in return he received a clout on the side of the head that took away all his interest in the1 argument. As he crumpled to the floor, a broad-toed boot caught him in the thigh and swirled him flat against the opposite row of bunks.

“Strike back at me, will ye?”

“You big lummox," said a deep bass voice from a nearby bunk, “why don’t you hit some one your size? It’s a fine game to be chief engineer, but I notice it’s the little fellows you’re always finding trouble for. Some day, mind me. you’ll find a hot slicebar in the middle of your belly.”

“Corrigan, I'll see ye in irons before this v’yage is over.”

“Well, that'll save your jaw a punch. Leave that kid alone till he »obers up; and you let him skip his watch till he gets his bearings.”

The speaker climbed out of his bunk. He was naked frofn the waist up. His chest was deep and broad and hairy, and his arms and legs were those of a caryatid. He measured up to five-foot-four, and there nature had left him to shift for himself, apparently doubting the advisability (in an effort toward universal peace» of building the man any higher. The crew described him as a big voice entirely surrounded by a helluva little man. He trotted over to the inanimate Cathew, picked him up and! carried him back to the evil-smelling -butnk.

' I ' HE chief engineer—something of a A Hercules himself—balled! his fists and stood irresolute, pulled one way by the knowledge of his authority and another by his caution. He looked big enough to take Corrigan in his hands and break him like a pipestem; but he made no effort to do so, for the very reason that the Irishman was as quick and strong and merciless as a tiger when fully aroused. Add to this that the squat was a veteran of the prize ring whose stature alone had kept him from fame ánd money, and you will gather how formidable he was to those who knew anything about him.

“Silk!” muttered Corrigan, as Cathew rolled off his arms into the bunk. “Silk underwear! I’ll kill that dirty crimp Fall the next time I see New York. I thought I saw his ugly mug when I railed in last night. I suppose I was too drunk to notice. Did you see the lad come back at that big stiff?” addressing the numerous heads now sticking out over the bunk rim. “Game anyhow.”

“Mullinstil lay for you, Corrigan, for that talk,” said someone. f “Let him. He’ll be spry to land on me, I’m thinking. I’m the best fireman on board; and the Cap’n being as square as they make ’em knows it. Ah ! he’s coming about.”

“In God’s name, where am I?” whispered Cathew.

“On board the Limerick. I guess they shanghaied you.”

“Shanghaied me? A block from Broadway?” everything coming back in spite of his splitting head.

“Yep. It was tough work to get a full crew for this old bucket; and I guess the Cap’n didn’t ask questions this trip.”

“I must see the Captain at once,” declared Cathew, struggling to get out of his bunk. Corrigan pressed him back firmly. “Better sleep off your souse first,”

“But I wasn’t drunk. I was kidnapped and drugged a block from my club!” “Uhuh. Better lie still.”

“Is there a wireless on board?” “Nothing but the pipe-organ on the smokestack. Take an old sailor’s advice and be quiet.” '•

“Where are we bound?”

“San Francisco.”

“San Francisco? But, good Lord, man, they don’t sail for San Francisco from New York!”

“This old bucket does. You see. it’s like this. She used to run to Bermuda and back, onions and potatoes. Last month she was sold to some fleet on the Pacific coast, and we’re on the way to join, it. That’s why it was so hard to get a crew.” “What’s the first port?” with sinking heart.

“Suez for coal. Our bunkers’ll carry us there. Then we stop at Colombo to take on a cargo of tea. The other stops are Singapore, Hong-Kong. Manila, Honolulu and ’Frisco. Take it easy. You aren't alone.”

“Where are my clothes?”

“They won’t do you a bit of good. Take it from me. If you want to slope. Suez is your first chanceBut I doubt we see any pay till vre hit Colombo. It’s tough luck, but you’re on my watch, and I'll ease it as much as I can for you. All you got to do is to shovel coal, every four hours out of twelve, with eight to do as you please in, so long as you don’t go up to the Cap’n’s bridge. Keep away from there. It will only give Mullins an excuse to beat you up.”

“It’s mighty good of you to talk to me like this. What is your name?” “Corrigan. And yours?”

“Sounds Irish. Well, now, turn in and sleep. You need it. You won’t, have to stand this watch. I’ll wake you up when I come back. Ever been to sea before.” “Yes.”

“That’ll help. No speaking up to the bridge, mind. I’d take you there myself, if I knew it would do any good.”

All this was sound advice, and for the time being Cathew decided, to act upon it. He lay back and thought. The one thing that appalled him was the thought of his mother. The shock of his disappearance might kill her. There was no possible way of getting news to her till he reached Suez, nearly thirty days, according to Corrigan. His clothes! He began looking about At the foot he found a suit, cheap, second-hand shoddy. He went through the pockets, his hands shaking and his heart full of despair. Not a sou-markee, not even a match could he find. All gone, a watch worth a hundred and an even two hundred in cash. He buried his face in the oil-tainted pillow. He would not have cared so much if he could have gotten word home. What would they think, his mother—and the girl? That he had taken the two hundred and gone on a long carouse. Shanghaied a block from Broadway!

AVTHEN Corrigan returned heHfcmnd v ’ the young man asleep. He turned in and went asleep himself. On thej second watch he taught Cathew how to handle his scoop, how to dig and lift without extra exertion ; how to save himself, in fact.

“Shove your scoop under, not into, the coal. The coal’ll naturally fall into the scoop and that’ll save pushing. All you have to do then is to lift. And keep out of other people’s way. Go to it.”

At the end of the second hour Cathew’s back began to stiffen; it became a mortal agony to stoop and straighten up. There was pain in his eyes, in his throat, in his lungs. He was in a miniature hell. The flashes from the furnace door gave a broken touch to it all. The sheet iron flooring, greasy with oil, offered but little foothold. He slipped, slid, and sometimes went sprawling with an overturned

It was Corrigan w h o shouldered him up the steel ladders; it was Corrigan who sluiced his tortured body with buckets of cold sea water; it was Corrigan who gave him something to toughen his hands and take away the smart.

“You’ll never regret this kindness, Corrigan."

“Forget it. It was the way you offered to punch Mullins, when the big stiff could eat you up with one hand tied behind him. Know anything about holding up your paddies?".,

“A little; but I haven’t done any boxing for several years.”

“Been batting around and spending pa’s money, huh?"

barrow. He wai always in someone’s way, continually bombarded with curses. It seemed to him that he had been at work half a day, when a clattering of scoops and slicebars told him that the watch was being relieved.

“That’s it. And maybe I’m getting what's coming to me.”

“You’ll be all right in a week's time. You’ve got a good frame. All you need is to get rid of the hog-fat. Booze is a bad business. I know.”

“Nobody knows that better than I do. And I never drank because I liked the stuiRaither.”

A WEEK later Cathew was handling his scoop like an old-timer. He could stoop and rise without that extraordinary pain over his kidneys; he could dodge his co-workers, trot over the slippery steel without losing his footing. From then on he improved. He began’to harden. He could sleep dreamlessly, something he had not done in five years. One day, as they were nearing Gibraltar, he determined to seek the Captain, Bannerman by name, despite Corrigan's warnings. He was not going to ask to be landed. All he wanted was enough money to send a cable home.

The stokehole crew were permitted to use the wait and the bowdeck, but they were not allowed abaft the waist. Cathew knew this, but it did not deter him. As his foot touched the quarter deck he saw Miîllins.

“Get off this deck, you slumgullion !”

“Mr. Mullins, said Cathew, holding his voice down, “1 am not looking for trouble. I am going to sec the Captain.”

“Oh, ye are, are ye? I’ll give ye one minute to step down that ladder. If ye have any complaints t’ make, ye’ll make ’em t’ me, an’ I’ll see whether they’re worth carryin’ t’ the Cap’n.”

“Bettet stand aside. Mr. Mullins. I’m going to that bridge.”

It was foolhardy, and Cathew realized this afterwards. But his soul was tortured with the constant thought of the anxiety of his parents. Fourteen days had passed, and they knew not whether he was dead or alive. He was promptly knocked down, kicked to the ladder and pushed over. Slowly he got up. He gazed at the smiling gorilla who was leaning over the rail. Civilization seemed a very remote condition. Cathew the boy had bumped down that ladder; Cathew the man had risen from the deck, a coldbkjoded primordial man, in life at last; to kill or ning devil up there. He sore, but he never falte watch.

“What makes you limp gan, as they met at the waiter bucket for

Cathew told him. “An

God above, he’ll pay for t man shall ever put his get away with it. Corrigi to teach me how to fight.

!an~y ringstuff. I ne4n What yot all Idock-wallopel ityl~, where yo~ i.e your teet)i indinaili and feel md bumbs." C4rrigsn rub. )e4 his handi )le~ su rabi y 4Yo4're Irish, I .asi$'t wr9ng I'll ake ou iii ban4 After ws oal~up at Suez~ We'll have five week~ between there~ and Sing ipoi4. The old hoover doesn't makel no more'n nine nots. She's all r~i~ht with the wind her quar ter,t but she doesnit cotton to head-4na or sTunfling Iea." If you keep Ion inmprov ing y~u'l1 be,,fit when Iwe get e Sings jore I gel off thdre." "Aren't you go~ mt thk~hr "N4 so's `C noties find ip'~ o Chink4at Shtga pore. They cas st.an&jtbe heat But c4t out th~ bridge tuff. Th~ Cap's wouldn' listen C 0 4th.w b.) Gi~ralta pass i~4 the ame thystin4 fterfioi of sun.4t~ be .ai Sicily 41.. ov.

one horizon and vanish «town a always his thoughts were of th home. He longed to rush in splendid father of his and tell willing to begin with the broo his mother in his arms and tell done, to ask the one girl in the another chance.

ONE afternoon found the tilo seated in the shadows of the Iforemost hoistboom. From time to time they moved with the shadow. Upl to this moment neither man offered to exchange confidences. They had been too Busy.

“And so you're a rich man’s, son! I thought as much when I felt I the silk of your underclothes. And the swine of a crimp body-snatched you a blqck from little old Broadway! Something fishy about that.”

Continued on page 57

The Pigeon-blood Rubies of Perak

Continued from page 43

“They may have kidnapped me for a ransom and got cold feet,” suggested Cathew.

“Maybe!”

“Well, I’ll see that crimp again some day. Corrigan, have you got any money?” “A hundred and ten dollars. It took me three years to save it.”

“A hundred and ten, and you signed on?”

“I wanted to get to Singapore the cheapest and quickest way there was.” “But why Singapore?”

“Maybe I’ll tell you some day.”

“You’re a puzzle. You’re an educated man. I’ve listened to your talk. You ought to be something better than a fireman at twenty-six the month.”

“Sure. I went half way through high school, and read a lot. Then J got mixed up in the fight game; later, with Old John Barleycorn; and here I am. Oh, there was a woman in it, and when she passed out of my life, everything else worth while passed out with her. She was a poor thing; and a strong man loves only once. But why this question about money”

“I want to send a cable from Colombo. There’s a mother back there,” with a nod toward the west, “and I want her to know what’s become of me. Besides, I want some cash waiting for me when I land at Singapore.”

“Cash? Can you get some?” asked Corrigan, excitedly. ! .“My allowance of two hundred a 1 month.”

“Do you mean to say your old man let you have that much for booze and cigarI ettes?”

Cathew laughed. “A lot more than ; that. The two hundred was a new deal the day I was shanghaied.”

“How much can you get?” j “Six hundred, maybe eight.”

Corrigan fondled his “tin-ear,” single evidence of that strenuous past in the ! squared ring. Then he plucked at the sweltering tar in the crack beside him. “Are you game?”

I “I mean, are you willing to risk death?” “That depends upon what I go after. What have you got up your sleeve?” “Seven pigeon-blood rubies each as big { as your eye and an emerald that’ll make j your heart jump up in your gullet and stick there. For some years I’ve known about them, but I never could get enough . dough together. Fifty never looked big enough to save, «o I’d booze it. But this is a game where you play death both ends from the middle.”

“I’ll go along if you want me.”

“Shake. W’hen we reach Colombo I’ll dig up enough for your cable home. And ! I’ll have my last souse. It’ll be a good j one. What’ll the cable cost?”

“About twelve I should think.”

“That’ll leave me eight. I’ll pack the other ninety in your jeans. How’ about ! your thirst?”

“I’m ©n the water wagon, and I’m going to stay ¿there.”

“First leave ashore, and no thirst! You’ll never make a sailor. But you’re j game, as I said you were the morning I picked you up.”

“I’ll stick. If you’ve got a drunk on your mind there’s no use of arguing.” “None whatever. I haven’t got any family life you have. Nobody cares. All aboard for Perak and seven pigeon-bloods as big as your eye, huh? Here comes ! some of those rubber-necks. Mum’s the i w’ord.”

AT Colombo, Cathew sent his cable, and his heart grew light at the thought ! of the welcome that message would receive within forty hours.

Being a man of his word, Corrigan got drunk on his twenty-four rupees.

\ He zigzagged about town in such a haphazard way that the confusion and indirection of it reminded Cathew of the short-lines connecting his father’s pet railroad. The Cingalese rickshaw boys sweated and tugged, and Corrigan shouted Hindustani at their bobbing turbans. It was midnight when they found a boat I to carry them out to the Limerick.

! “Got a rupee?” asked Corrigan drow: sily.

“Oh, well; give the boatman your

“But I haven’t got my watch,” laughed Cathew.

“Well, here’s mine,” and Corrigan passed out to the boatman a handsome Ingersoll, worth at this period of service about tw’entv-seven cents. To the boatman it was a magnificent gift and in his astonishment he all but strangled on his betel-nut. “Huzoor,” the native began, “may your honored worship-”

But Corrigan shut him off, staggered to the ladder, swung himself on, and went up with occasional boosts from Cathew. Mullins was waiting. There had been several desertions.

“Oh, ye’er back, are ye?”

“Sure thing! But talk nice t’ me, Mullins dear, ’r I’m li’ble to bite your ear off ... ’r kiss you!

“Oh, th’ ship it was th’ coffin,

An’ the grave it was the sea!”

“Go below, ye souse!” growled Mullins.

Corrigan turned ominously, but Cathew pressed him toward the forecastle companion; and the black hole of it swallowed them up for the night. The shoveller helped the fireman into his bunk; and his interest was suddenly stirred by a strange bit of tattooing on the calf of Corrigan’s right leg. It was dimly discernible in the murky light.

“What’s that on your leg?” Cathew whispered.

“Huh?”

“What’s that tattooing?”

“’S the map . . . and Corrigan fell asleep.

And mayhap he dreamed of seven pigeon-bloods and an emerald fit for a rajah’s ceremonial turban; of bleached bones grown over with slithering junglegrass on the road winding down to Perak.

III.

“T T’S like this,” said Corrigan. “You

A can lose a piece of paper, but you can’t very well lose a leg. You can talk and brag when you’re soused, but so long as you take the leg back to your bunk, nobody’s any the wiser. I read a yarn once of a woman having a will tattooed on her back, and that gave me the idea. I did the tattooing. Many’s the halfdollar I’ve stowed away for that kind of work. Those dots tell me just where to go, while another man, having my leg in his dunnage-bag, couldn’t get within a hundred miles of the spot. But it’s a game with death, both ends from the middle.”

“You know Malacca?”

“A little,” answered Corrigan, looking down at the flying-fish.

“I’ll go.”

“And I'll teach you all I know about the country. I had a royal souse last night, eh? All inside of eight dollars. ’Twas the bhang on top of the champagne that did the work. Well, I’ve got it off my mind. And now, no more about Perak till we leave this old hooker at Singapore. Wish Y was sure about your money coming.”

“Wish I had nothing else to worry about,” sighed Cathew.

When the Limerick’s mudhook eventually went clattering down into the smiling shark-infested harbor of Singapore, Cathew felt a strange wobbling in his knees. Supposing the money had not come from home? He sought out the purser, but the purser declined to advance him any money for the simple reason that his pay would not begin until after the ship had left Manila.

“Do you mean to say I’ve nothing coming?”

“You gave an order to Fall for three months’ pay.”

“That crimp? Look here, Mr. Spoor, you know as well as I do that I was drugged and shanghaied.”

“They all say that,” replied the purser, closing the shutter of his window.

Cathew was sorely tempted to smash the shutter with his fist. Some day he would make them all pay for this, from Fall, the crimp, to Bannerman, the Captain.

“It’s an old game,” said Corrigan. “He wouldn’t give me a nickel either. They'll need white men below before they get to Manila. Where’s your dunnage?”

“On my back,” said Cathew surlily.

“Then come on. Any one of these bumboats will row us ashore.”

They weren’t a very prepossessing pair to the Consul-General, who instantly suspected that they wanted the government to ship them home, to lend them money, or to give them a square meal.

They were both in need of a hair-cut and a shave, and their ears and necks and the rims of their eyelids explained the character of work in which they had been engaged. But the moment Cathew spoke, the Consul-General reversed his * opinion.

“My name is Arthur Cathew, and I am expecting a cable with money from New York. Is there anything here for me?”

“Yes, Mr. Cathew. There are two cablegrams. Here they are.”

Cathew tore open the first with trembling fingers. Corrigan hunched himself against the young man’s shoulder over which he peered. It was an order on the cable-office for twenty-four hundred rupees. The second cable was from the father. ‘Take care of yourself. All well at home. Write. Father.”

They cashed the order, and arm in arm they returned to Raffles hotel. After the shave and hair-cut followed a fine showerbath, with soap which did not bite holes in a man’s skin or put his eyes out of commission if he washed his face. Cathew wrote a long letter home; and after that they went about for clothes, though the outfit for the expedition was-to be purchased at Perak; guns, ammunition, canned foods, medicines and horses. Corrigan did not care to attract attention in Singapore by making such purchases, at Perak there would be no governmental red-tape regarding side-arms. They sailed at dawn on the copra-boat, and it was only when Singapore became a rim of pale sapphire did Cathew remember. And he struck the rail savagely with his calloused fist.

“What’s worrying you” asked Corrigan, lowering his pipe.

“Mullins. I forgot all about him.”

“As I intended you should,” said Corrigan chuckling. “Man, he would have made mincemeat of you; and I need a whole man with me when I leave Perak behind. He could break me if he got his arms around me; but he knew I was too quick for him, and that’s why we never clashed. Bad luck to the big lummox! But this is good. All these weary years I’ve been trying to get here; but never could save the dough. The outfit will tally up to about fifteen hundred rupees. We go, just the two of us, no coolies, only two horses, a mule and light dunnage. And one day you’ll see, sticking out above a big banyan tree, the top of a temple, yellow as a stokie with the jaundice. And 'tis there ; only, we’ve got to crawl on our bellies to get there. It’s a little Hindu idol, not much bigger than your hand; and what we’re going after resides in his tummy.”

The Pigeon-blood Rubies of Perak

Continued from page 59

“Suppose some one had already been there?”

“You lop-sided son-of-a-seacook, doubting like that! There was only one white man who knew what that idol contained, and he, poor devil, is soaking his bones in the Gulf of Siam. I can lay my hands on it in the dark. But the yellow cusses who worship in that ruined temple are a cross between a Malay amok and a Paythan’s woman after a shindy. They don’t kill you. Maybe they put out your eyes, or roast your toes, or hamstring yod and let you go. I’m telling you these things so’s you can back out when we reach Perak. You’ve got to have bowels, son, or it’s no go.”

THEY left Perak at night and took the winding road toward the east, toward the unknown, following the river as far as they could. In order to avoid observation and the curiosity of the natives, they decided to travel at night while it was possible, and rçst during the day. Though the hot weather had laid hold of this part of the world, the sun in no wise bothered them. They had both become inured to a heat quite as enervating; and there was a chance to dodge the sun. Ninety miles out of Perak—three days to be precise—the road ended abruptly, an Oriental habit roads have in the East, and became a mere beaten path through a bewildering tropical jungle. Now they must travel by day and make camp at night.

ON THE evening of the twelfth day Corrigan tetherfd the horse and fcule af^MDut on hltf ammunition-belt, motioning Çgthew to do the same, and in a whisper said :

“No talkin’ from now on. No fire. When the moon rises I'll show you a picture that’ll make your heart thump like a bilge-pump. We'll lay low till ten o’clock;

and thenWell, Gawd help us if

we’re caught. Now I’m going t’ give you the right dope. I told you the other night that the other man’s bones were bleachin’ in the Gulf of Siam. I lied. They’re bleachin’ up yonder, half a mile away. They hamstrung him, but I got away. Those rubies and the emerald were his— honestly his. He wasn’t a thief; no more am I. The old Sultan had promised these priests the idol upon his death, because the idol meant nothing to him, he being a Mohammedan. My pal saved his son’s life. And when the old boy croaked, the young chap gave Heine—he was a German—the idol, the rubies and the emerald, not carin’ a host about what the priests wanted. Heine opened the bottom of the idol and took out the prayers and put in the stones. He was going back .to Bavaria, t’ live comfortable Hie rest of his days. But the dirty beggars stole the idol, not then knowin’ what was inside. Heine got away by the skin of his teeth. Four years later he told ma^BIld we .went back. Ah' that’s the Gawd’s truth; for this ain’t no time to lie. Yr can go with me with an easy conscience.”

Cathew nodded.

“Now, listen t’ what I say. If I’m caught,” went on Corrigan, “you hump yourself. No tried and true stuff. You’d not save me an’ only chop your own head off. And’ if you’re caught, I’ll hoof it. It’s goin’ to be each man for himself, an’ death both ways from the middle. There’s the horse. All y1 got to do is t’ get on his back an’ hike back t’ Perak, an’ I’ll go it alone. You won’t find the trail back hard. What d’ say?”

Cathew took hold of Corrigan’s hand, pressed it, and pointed east.

“There’s another thing,” pursued Corrigan. “We’ll have to leave the horse and mule here. A panther may smell them. In that case, goodnight. We’re tough, but we Can’t walk bade to Perak. It would take us more than a month, not counting the fever, which you’re more likely to get on foot, than on the back of a horse. There’s my cards, boy. Five hundred devils over there, a possible loss

of Hie nagsNever mind, let’s eat and

drink hearty. I’m glad I had that souse in IColomobo.”

“Seven pigeon-bloods and an emerald.”

“Worth a hundred thousand if a cent. Our shoes are hollow-heeled. Well divide. I’Uf take five rubies and you take two and the emerald.”

All this conversation was held in the softest of whispers.

At nine the two climbed a tree, and Corrigan swung his binoculars. Cathew heard a faint curse.

"On this night of all nights!”

“What is it?”

“Look and see for yourself.”

Cathew beheld through the glasses the ruined facade of a. temple. Before this there was a clearing, covered with genuflecting bodies.

“Some rotten fete, and it may hold us up, for hours. We get in at the back. Same way we got in before. We weren’t quick enough. Never laid hands on the idoL God! I can hear his cries yet, and th$y were all for me to run. I found one of the horses alive, and I rode him till he dropped dead. I walked sixty-two miles. What blasted fools men are! Well, we’re born that way. Always wanting to get something for nothing. We might as well roost here and watch the proceedings.”

'P'ROM time to time the slight east wind A carried to them a wailing of tom-toms and a vague spicy incense. Occasionally a flicker of light appeared beyond the temple doors. Higher rose the moon; and deeper and deeper became Cathew’s conviction that this was not real, only a figment of some dream, and that presently he would wake as of old, in his bedroom at home.

It was fully eleven o’clock when the devotees rose and departed for the village. Still Corrigan gave no sign that he was ready to descend. All the while he was straining his ears for any unusual noises. The time passed, and Cathew began to grpw restless.

“It is twelve, Corrigan,” he whispered, holding his new watch under a bat of moonshine.

“It’s a fine thing to be young and born with fighting blood. Well, then—follow me. I’ve taught you how to walk witb^ out cracking twigs. Remember that afid keep your eye on my back. And if I turn quickly run like all hell was after you.”

THE final detour took perhaps threequarters of an hour, The rear of the

temple was shrub-and-vine grown. It was evident that none of the natives ever went in or came out that way. Suddenly Corrigan raised his hand. For a moment Cathew understood it as a sign to fly; but immediately after he saw Corrigan stoop and vanish. He followed, taking great care that his rifle touched no stone. Corrigan drew him close and whispered in his ear.

“We’ll squat here for ten minutes. If we hear no sound, take hold of my coat and lift your feet at each step.”

Those ten minutes were very long to Cathew.

“Now!” whispered Corrigan.

Cathew took hold 'of the other’s coat and walked like a cat in wet grass. Presently Corrigan touched the key of his electric-torch, and a white patch of light dartled here and there over a beautiful marble cavern. From this cavern they entered a small hall, füll of grotesque gods; or, to be exact, one god in many grotesque poses. Corrigan stopped. The patch of light wavered and finally settled upon a central figure, draped with fresh flowers. Resting upon one of its hands was a little golden statue perhaps ten inches high, and toward this Corrigan moved without a sound.

It was the work of a moment to lift it off the gilded palm upon which it stood. It is a strange but invariable fact that he who stumbles upon treasure throws cautions to the wind. It had been Corrigan’s plan to take the little idol and hasten back to the banyan-tree, to fly westward as ff all the devils were at his% heels. Instead, he set the key of the torch and squatted down upon the temple floor, pried out the inlay in the base and shook the golden idol. Into his hand tinkled eight stones, all polished, seven exquisite pigeon-blood rubies and an emerald the like of which Cathew had never seen.

“What did I tell you?” whispered Corrigan hoarsely. “Off with your heel while I hold the torch. Hustle!”

Cathew worked feverishly. The heel came off, the two rubies and the emerald were packed in cotton, placed in the hollow and the heel-tap hammered on again. Then in turn he held the torch, still possessed with the idea that all this was a dream. As Corrigan thrust his foot back into his shoe, his leg paused in mid-air, one hand against the sole and the other curled about the strap.

“What is it?” asked Cathew.

“Listen! What do you hear?”

Cathew put his hand to his ear. “Sounds like tom-toms-”

“Then, God help us, it’s the priests coming back!”

THEY cared not what noise they made thereafter. They ran, stumbled, fell, rose and ran again toward the hole through which they had come. 1 Beyond, in the moonlight, they saw a dozen priests, motionless but expectant. It did not matter where they had come from or how they had selected this spot. An ordinary man would have turned and desperately made for the front of the temple. But Corrigan had been a fighting sailor. All in that bitter moment he weighed his chances. There would naturally be less men here than on the other side.

“Follow me!” he cried, leaping out. “Fight on your own. If you have a chance take it; don’t worry about me.”

He clubbed his gun and swung it as the yelling priests closed in. Instantly the dozen became ten dozen. They came from now here, like kites at the smell of meat— carrion. Corrigan went down five times and five times he rose. The priests billowed over him like waves and he bore up through them like a hardy swimmer. He never had a chance to use his revolver. Once he found himself free, and he started to run; but a dozen yards marked the extent of his victory. When he went down the sixth time he stayed down. Strewn about his path were eight priests a? quiet and still as he was.

“Corrigan, Corrigan?” sobbed Cathew, clubbing, kicking, dodging. “Corrigan?” He fought with a savageness that topped Corrigan's, but he possessed neither the strength nor the endurance of the brave Irishman; and by the time the tom-toms arrived, he was a prisoner. He was pushed and buffeted to the clearing on the other side of the temple, flung to the turf, bound securely and left there. He fainted; and in that fate was kind to him, for he did not witness Corrigan’s end. He never knew how they had been discovered. Only the shades of other luckless adventurers, hovering over their nameless tombs, could have told him.

WHEN he recovered his senses, pale dawn was moving across the face of the world. Brighter and brighter it grew. Suddenly the tree tops burst into a flame, and slowly this flame crept downward. A flock of noisy parakeets sailed about the old pavilion. It was morning.

The priests were moving about. They were bringing fagots for a fire. Cathew stirred a little, but only a little, as the thongs were of elephant-hide. There was not a bone in his body that did not ache. Somewhere during the melee he had been struck upon the mouth. His lips were cracked and puffed; and he could barely see out of one eye.

Where was Corrigan? He craned his neck but he could see no sign of him. Torture! Now he remembered all of Corrigan’s warnings, that it wras far better to die than to fall into the hands of these religious fanatics. They were building the fire for him! Then it was that fear entered his heart and never left it for . many a day. Still he wriggled his toes to make sure that his shoes were still on his feet!

Later they came to him and rolled him 1 toward the fire' Two sat upon his body while a third bound his arms at the elbows and freed his wrists. How he struggled, twisted and writhed, choking sometimes as the pungent smoke drifted into his face! Slowly and deliberately the priest pushed the strong hands into the heart of the glowing fagots. Cathew screamed in agony. The tom-toms began to beat furiously. Here and there they chanted dolorously. In the midst of all this powwow came the sharp crack of a rifle. The priest holding Cathew’s hands toppled over into the fire, scattering it.

“Corrigan!” murmured the victim, and sank down, down into a soundlass world of utter darkness.

IV.

T^\ R. NORFELDT, at the head of a botanical exploring party from Johore, with a hunting expedition ás a sideissue, was very well pleased with himself. He had gathered, some unusual flora which sustained his claim that Borneo and Malacca had many things in common. And he had no less than seven tiger and black panther skins. Rather fair work for three months. He travelled with five elephants, nine mules, twentythree servants and beaters and six assistants. his personal friends. Later, the various northern botanical gardens would receive many benefits. But he had an adventure, a most amazing adventuro. He had seen what white men rarely see and still more rarely live to tell; ceremonial torture. Half a dozen shots had broken up the affair. His elephants had evidently convinced the priests that there was an army behind. One white man he had buried; the other lay at one side of the hunting-howdah, his hand in enormous white bandages. He looked like a dead man, but he was only under the influence of opiates. Sometimes a low groan issued from his swollen purple lips.

"We came just in time, Nash,” said the Doctor. "In another moment his hands would have been useless forever. As it is a finger or two may be drawn. God! did you get a whiff of the air about that fire? The devils! I have heard ihat up here they still follow some of their abominable ancient rites. Take a Hindu and mix a little Chinese and Malay in his blood, and you'll have something that’ll make a Tibetan blush for his tenderness.” Cathew opened his eyes.

"Don't stir, young man.” said the Doctor. "The longer you lie quiet as the elephant-jog will let you, the quicker your hands will come about.”

Cathew tried to speak.

“What? Give him a little cocoanutmilk. Now, what is it you’re trying to say?”

“Corrigan." in a tone which was without inflection.

“Your friend? We buried him. He wasn’t a pleasant sight to look at. But 1 think he was already dead when they mutilated him.” x

Tears welled up into Cathew’s eyes and rolled down his cheeks. For now he knew that he had loved the derelict.

"Did you bury him—with his shoes on?” “God save us, Nash, did you hear that? With his shoes on? Just as we found him; but I don’t remember whether he had any shoes on or not.”

AND sleep twenty-four hours he did.

It was the best thing in the world for him, too. The Doctor was very kind, and his treatment of the poor hands undoubtedly saved them. At the end of two months—for the Doctor refused to let his chance patient interfere with his researches—the expedition returned to Johore, where the Sultan re-established his state elephants and celebrated the occasion as befitted a Malay monarch.

During these two months Cathew kept his tongue behind his teeth. His saviors respected his silence. When his hands healed sufficiently to cast off the bandages he was given a pair of cotton gloves which he wore habitually. And night after night he slept with his shoes under his rude pillow. Often they would hear him call out in his sleep—“Corrigan, Corrigan!”

Cathew bade them farewell at Johore. “Have you any money?”

“A little, perhaps three hundred rupees. You're-a good man, Doctor.”

“You won’t tell us what it was about?” “I’d rather not.”

The Doctor smiled. “Be very careful of your shoes, and don’t fall into the habit of talking in your sleep. Good-bye.”

/^ATHEW bought a first-class ticket to ^ Singapore—-fourteen miles away—in order that he might have a compartment alone. Travel was light, and he had a first-class car all to himself. It was only on Sundays that the traffic was heavy. One could go over from Singapore and find a miniature Monté Carlo in Johore. When the train was fairly out of the city, Cathew took off his shoe and wrenched loose the heql. Two rubies and an emerald; they had not been touched. Sweat trickled down the end of his nose and spattered on the gems. He wrapped them up in cotton again and put them into the watch-pocket at the trouser-band. And now to sell them.

Three hundred rupees would carry him along for a few days. A North' German Lloyder sailed at ten that night for Bremen. If he missed that he would be compelled to wait a week later and take the F. & O. boat.

Singapore at night Cathew, in a fresh «uít of drill (fifteen rupees) and a cheap Helmet of pith (six rupees), started out nP?n_,h*® »»ngular quest Vaguely he recalled that Corrigan had said something about a man by the name of Vaal, a Dutchman in the pawnbroking business, who knocked you down a lot but generally gave you something worth while. He was to be found somewhere near the Street of the Big Numbers—the haunt of unfortunates. He had to go through the Chinese quarters, and the wonder of it did not touch his interest or curiosity tonight He was leaving this district when k® full tilt into a Sikh policeman.

Vaal,” he said, “pawnshop.”

The Sikh spoke a little English and gave the direction affably. Next’to being tile best native soldier, the Sikh was the finest policeman in the Orient

TT WAS a dingy sí£p. .The show win-

dows had not been washed in'ages. They were filled, rather cluttered, with arms, musical instruments, golfsticks, dried sharks’ heads, pottery, skins, and some cheap jewelry. It did not look to Cathew like a place where a man might dispose of fine gems. There were no lights in front; an oil-hanging lamp over the counting-deck was the sole illumination. Finally he mustered up courage enough to enter.

He saw a huge bearded man behind the desk, talking to a pretty woman. Suddenly he caught her by the arm and flung her against the reed partition. It was evident to Cathew-that he had entered upon a scene of^domesiic infelicity. A family row, hdwever, was nothing to him. He wanted toUell the stones and make the Prince Ludivik. It was nine o’clock.

“Is this VaalrMie inquired.

“Ah, coom in, coom in, sir,” said the proprietor. The new drill-suit and the showy helmet suggested a purchase. The young woman remained with her back to the partition, sullenly rubbing her bruised arm. In the swift glance, Cathew noted that she had been weeping recently, but that there was something unpleasant in the set expression of the great dark eyes. Her skin was tawny and her hair was black; but she was patently a white woman.

“Do you buy stones?” demanded Cathew. He was imptaient to have done and be gone.

“Sometimes,” with sudden aloofness.

“I don’t mean oh the pawn-ticket basis,” went on Cathew. “A lump sum outright.” “It depends.”

“Come over here under the light.”

The huge Dutchman and his visitor stepped under the lamp, und Cathew dug into his watch-pocket.

“What will you give me for these?” “Ethel, hant me der glass.”

The woman obeyed, but she looked with new interest at this young man who had doubtless saved her a beating.

“Where dit you get dese?”

“None of your business,” answered Cathew sharply.

Vaal turned them over and over.

“I will give you fif-hunert rupees for dem—or I vill call in der police.”

“Give them back. We can’t do business. Those stones are mine. I’Ve gone through hell for them.”

“Yes, yes, dey all say that. Fife-hunert und no questions asked.?

Wild with fury Cathew struck the man on the mouth. The gems went tinkling to the floor. Excruciating pain ran up and down Cathew’s arm. The Dutchman roared and closed in. The fight was short and decisive. Cathew was borne to the floor and there he might have died but for the unexpected aid from the young woman. She seized the desk-stool, ran out from behind the counter and swung the chair down with full strength. An ordinary man’s skull would have cracked like an eggshell. Vaal rolled over and lay still, while Cathew crawled about on his hands and knees in search of his possessions^ He found one ruby and the emerald. iDuring this time the young woman had foraged about and found some ropes. “Help me tie him.”

“He may be dead.”

“If there is any God he is dead. But he has a head like a gorilla. Come!”

• They bound tl^e pawnbroker and pushed him into a dark comer. Then she opened the cash drawe4 took out a roll of rupee notes and a little chamois bag and stuffed them into her bosom. She disappeared for a moment, and Cathew renewed his search for the missing ruby, occasionally throwing a glance toward the door. When the woman returned, a straw hat was perched on her head and her mouth was full of hatpins. She could think of hatpins! Cathew stared at her in amazement.

“You are English?”

“American.”

“So am I. And I’m going on the Ludwig this very night “The LuduHg?” he echoed délly.

She blew out the light, locked the door and flung the key into the gutter. She seized Cathew by the hand and he followed her dumbly. There are some catastrophes so swift and undreamt of that they hypnotize us; and Cathew was hypnotized. After all those terrible weeks in the jungle, to plunge headlong into crime and perhaps murder! After awhile he found his tongue.

“What was that brute to you?”

“He was my husband. I have a right to the things I took. For more than a year he has beaten and kicked me. He has called me all the vile names he could lay his tongue to. If you had not come in just as you did, he would have beaten me again; and then I would have stabbed him.”

“For God’s sake, not so loud!”

“Was I talking loud? You saw him fling me agaiqst the wall. . . Here are two rickshaws. Get in.”

He obeyed. He would have done anything she asked, absurd or tragic. The rickshaws ran side by side. He never looked at her but straight ahead.

“Have you got any money?” she called across tx> him.

He-shook his head, meaning that he hadn’t enough to take him to Europe. A moment iater she passed a roll of notes towards him. He accepted them, and they were, held tightly in his poor scarred hands till they reached the Lloyd dock.

FIVE minutes later they went on board, and the Prince Ludwig slipped her cables.

“You go to the purser right away and buy your ticket to Naples. I’ll buy mine later for Colombo. I have an uncle there. Why do you wear gloves when it is so hot?” she asked suddenly.

“I’m dizzy,” was all he said.

“He hurt you?”

He nodded, and sank into the nearest steamer chair, caring not who owned it.

“I’m sorry,” she said, timidly touching his arm. “Perhaps I have got you into trouble when all I meant was to help you. If I hadn’t hit him he would have killed you.”

“What’s done is done. But if he’s dead, we’ll never get further than Colombo.”

“I was a bit wild last night. But I’d do it all over again. Are the stones safe?” “Good Lord!” He clapped his hand to the little watch-pocket ' The stones were there. And for hours he had forgotten!

The voyage was uneventful; but when the Prince Ludwig dropped her anchor in the harbor at Colombo and the quarantine boat came out jauntily, the two outcasts drew together, oppressed with forebodings which had in perspective a stuffy Oriental courtroom and all the drab paraphernalia of a trial for murder. But God, while He never forget^ often relents; and they went ashore without let or hindrance.

Eight hours later she stepped aboard the tender. In his pocket there was an order on*a New York bank for fourteen thousand dollars. Besides this he had in rupee-notes a thousand more. It was a fortune, and he had earned every dollar of it by struggle, privation, in the face of overwhelming odds.

AND so the involuntary Odysseus went back to his Ithaca, home to his mother, his father, and the girl, a cleareyed, brown-skinned vigorous young prodigal ; and his Odyssey had a touch of the Homeric.

Life is also full of anti-climaxes; if you doubt it, wait a little.

Two months after Cathew’s return, his father received from San Francisco (at his personal request) a fin« photograph of the most recent addition to his new fleet of Oriental; freighters. Of the twelve ships, eleven had Oriental names. This one, the twelfth, retained the name by which she had been launched. It was distinctly Irish. After studying the photograph for a while, Cathew senior chuckled and drew out of a certain pigeonhole in his desk two cancelled cheques. The first, for five thousand, was made out to Captain Bannerman, of the Limerick; the second, for a smaller sum, was made payable to James Fall, ostensibly a waterfront saloon-keeper, but in reality a crimp of the first water.

And there you are!